Car video reviews:

Super Rare 1969 Chevrolet COPO Camaro ZL-1 Hits the Drag Strip

The 1960s not only spawned the greatest muscle cars ever built, but those years also gave America the first super stock drag racers. Every Detroit-based manufacturer had at least one back in the day, and the Chevrolet COPO Camaro is among the rarest and most desirable.
1969 Chevrolet COPO Camaro 1 photo
The COPO is now a drag-ready Camaro that you can't drive on the street, but the original concept was a bit different. Since GM didn't allow Chevrolet to install engines larger than 6.6 liters in small-than-midsize models, the brand found a way to meet dealer requests for a bigger mill. It did that by using an ordering process usually reserved for fleet and special orders.

Chevy issued two numbers through the Central Office Production Order (COPO) for the 1969 model year: 9560 and 9561. The former is the more mundane of the two, as it added an already existing L72, 7.0-liter V8 to the Camaro. Famed Chevy dealer Don Yenko ordered 201 of them, but around 1,000 were eventually built as other dealers became aware of the package.

The second COPO issue, the 9560, saw Chevrolet drop an all-aluminum 7.0-liter V8 into the Camaro. Called the ZL-1, it was designed specifically for drag racing in NHRA's Super Stock category. The V8 was rated at 376 horsepower once installed in the car, but it was more capable than that. With tuning and exhaust upgrades, it delivered more than 500 horsepower.

Only 69 COPO Camaro ZL-1 cars were built in 1969, making it one of the rarest iterations of the American coupe. These cars rarely change hands or hit the auction block, and when they do, they usually go for more than $200,000.

Fortunately enough, some owners opt to keep them running instead of just locking them in a garage. Sometimes they even hit the drag strip in the Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race series for classic muscle cars. This white COPO Camaro is seen here running the quarter-mile against a 1971 Plymouth Duster 340.

The COPO actually loses the two-out-of-three duel, mostly because the driver struggles to put all that oomph to the ground. Still, it manages to run the distance in under 13 seconds and hits a trap speed in excess of 110 mph (177 kph). That's only a tad slower than the modern Chevrolet Camaro SS and Ford Mustang GT.

Video thumbnail


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories